The first Chippenham Beer Festival was held in the town's Neeld Hall in 1992. In 1994 the Neeld Hall was unavailable and so with some trepidation the venue moved to the Studio Hall of the Olympiad Leisure Centre. The festival went without a hitch and the festivals have been held at the Olympiad ever since. In 2012 we celebrated our 21st birthday.
Branch members remember there being too much beer and not enough customers the first year and Paul Hawkins spent the night in the Neeld Hall keeping wet towels wet whilst Alan Powell fly posted all the town's cash dispensers! The second year had too many customers but not enough beer. By the third year we had the balance right! Beer sales increased year on year from 500 gallons to over 800 gallons in 2010, with customer numbers rising from approximately 1300 to nearly 1900 in 2010.
Owing to alterations in 2011 the Studio Hall was no longer be available for Beer Festivals; but with help from the Olympiad staff and area management we secured the use of the main sports hall for the 2011 festival. As a result, we were able to hold on to a location beside the river Avon: a superb venue, especially for sunny Saturday afternoon sessions. It is also convenient for road, bus and rail links.
An added benefit comes in the form of the Olympiad staff, who contribute so much to the smooth running of the festival. Finally, of course, without our volunteer staff we wouldn't have a festival at all.
Beer and Cider Festival winners
(chocolate fudge milk stout)